Friday, May 12, 2023

Modeling SP passenger cars, Part 15

In recent posts on this topic, I have been describing a project to build two Southern Pacific streamlined sleeping cars, for the floor plans 4-4-2 (meaning 4 double bedrooms, 4 compartments, and 2 drawing rooms), and 13 DB (meaning 13 double bedrooms).

I’m doing this by applying Brass Car Sides for those two floor plans to old Rivarossi “1930 streamlined” cars, a coach and a sleeping car. (The plastic model products of Rivarossi in Italy were imported by AHM, Associated Hobby Manufacturers, thus called “AHM cars” for short.) The previous post, no. 14 in this series, can be found here:

Now it’s time to turn to painting and lettering these two cars. As I’ve mentioned, I want to apply the Lark paint scheme to them, two-tone gray with the dark gray on the window band. Here’s a photo from December 1955 at San Francisco, showing the overall appearance (Lawson K. Hill photo) of a 13 DB car.

This is the post-1946 version of the Lark scheme, with only the light stripes above and below the window band. For dimensions and details, see Southern Pacific Painting and Lettering Guide: Locomotives and Passenger Cars, 2nd edition, Jeff Cauthen and John Signor (SPH&TS, Upland, CA, 2019).

Roofs were black, as you see above, so I will replace the original color that happened to be on the Rivarossi cars. Those roofs were gray, as I showed in that first post (see it at: ); I used Tamiya Matte Black (TS-6) after masking the clear glazing areas. Here is one painted black, one still original gray.

Next I needed to make sure the brass sides were clean, particularly of any fingerprints or other contamination that might not hold paint. I carefully wiped all surfaces with isopropyl alcohol, which in my experience removes finger oils well, but won’t affect the plastic in these cars. Then I air-brushed the car sides with Lark Light Gray, which I lightened slightly for more contrast with the Dark Gray (compare the prototype photo above).

The view above shows the bedroom side of both cars. Since it also reveals the car interiors, I should mention that these streamlined sleeping cars had a partition the whole length of the car, alongside the aisle. That means you should never be able to see through a model of a car like this. I will just add an off-center styrene wall.

Then I masked the Light Gray except for a 2-ft., 9-in.-wide window band, using the excellent Tamiya masking tape. (For dimensions and other details of painting and lettering of these cars, I relied on the Cauthen and Signor book mentioned above). Below are the bedroom sides of both cars with the Lark Dark Gray added, except for the door. I used P-B-L Star Brand no. STR-26 for this color.

The next step will be striping. I have tried using decal stripes on cars of this length, and what a struggle to get them really straight! I have had much better success with simply masking for each stripe, which is this case should be SP Lettering Gray, not white. More on that in a following post.

Lettering: When these cars arrived from Pullman, the car numbers were on the letterboard at each end of the car, and the center of the letterboard carried the word “PULLMAN.” The Lark insignia was centered beneath the window band. In 1946, the car numbers were removed from the letterboard and instead were centered under the Lark insignia. In 1948, with the sale of most of the Pullman car fleet to the railroads, the word “Pullman” centered on letterboards was replaced with “Southern Pacific.” The car type, “Pullman,” was then placed at each end of the letterboard in small letters. Compare the prototype photo at the top of the present post.

Car numbering: These sleeping cars were purchased from Pullman with car numbers only, not names, unlike most North American sleeping cars. The original six 4-4-2 cars were numbered SP 200–205, and were renumbered during 1950–51 to SP 9104–9109. The original eight 13 DB cars were delivered as SP 300–307, and in 1950–51 became SP 9350–9357. Since I model 1953, I will use the later numbers.

In a future post, I’ll show both the striping and lettering parts of the project.

Tony Thompson

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